May 2, 2014 – Revised Halibut Retention Sizes For 2014

108 pounds! The Feakin family caught lots of fish during their stay with us including this monster trophy halibut.

Over the past 30 years, halibut fishing has become more & more popular with our guests at the Rivers Inlet Sportsman’s Club. With record catches of salmon these past few years most of our guests get near their limit of 8 salmon early in their trip. There is lots of catch and release as anglers become more selective with the fish they chose to retain.

As a result of this amazing salmon fishing, anglers are devoting more of their fishing time to targeting halibut.

In summer 2013, the Department & Fisheries & Oceans (DFO) halibut retention limits were 1/day, 2 in possession (to take home). One fish had to be under 83 cm/33" (approximately 15 lbs.) and the other under 126 cm/50" (approximately 60 lbs.) Also new was an annual limit of 6. For summer 2014 we still have retention of 1/day, 2 in possession. However, the lengths of fish changed to 1 under 90 cm/35" (approximately 18 lbs.) and the 2nd under 133 cm/52" (approximately 70 lbs.).

Again we plan to participate in the DFO Experimental Recreational Halibut Program which allows guests to retain halibut over 70 lbs. if they get lucky and hook a monster.

You don’t have to let that 100 lbs. barn door hali go!

We have a number of productive halibut spots that range from 10-25 minutes from the lodge. It is convenient to sneak in some halibut fishing on the tide change in the middle of your salmon fishing day. You don’t have to give up the entire day to your hali excursion you just simply bring both sets of gear with you in the boat. One year, a large halibut was caught at the entrance to Sportsman’s Bay where we chum our fish guts to attract them. This spot is literally 1 minute from the lodge and is super protected so you can fish it in any weather. As much as these giant trophy halibut are fun to hunt and look great on the scale, the best eating halibut are the smaller ones under 30 lbs. The texture of the flesh is just that much more delicate. Join us on a fishing adventure and make halibut a part of your experience. Check out the yummy halibut taco recipe below.

106 pounds!   28 pound chicken.   Giant Hali!
Dave Girard and his derby winning 106 lbs. halibut.   Ralf Andree and the perfect eating sized 28 lbs. "chicken" halibut.   Our fleet of boats sitting
on the float at our winter moorage in Sunshine Bay.
Halibut is the world’s largest flatfish (a flat-bodied fish with eyes on the right side) and related to the flounder family. The skin on the underside of the fish is white, while the top side is dark green, brown or black which allows it to blend into the color of the ocean floor where it lives. Guests sometimes confuse the halibut with a flounder as they are similar in appearance.

Halibut, is popular with guests because the sparkling white, lean and firm flesh is mild and clean tasting. Halibut cheeks, which are somewhat like scallops in taste and texture, are also popular. Halibut is caught all season at the Sportsman’s Club.

They are usually found in areas with a flat sandy bottom in depths of 100-300 ft.
Halibut are one of the most valuable commercial and recreational fish in the North Pacific Ocean because of their size and the high price that their dense firm meat commands. Their harvest dates back hundreds of years where, next to the salmon, they were one of the most important food sources to the first nations.

The commercial fishery dates back to the late 19th century. The technique used is called long lining. This is where circle hooks are baited typically with squid or octopus and are attached at intervals to a weighted line than can extend for several miles along the bottom. This gear is allowed to "soak" often for up to 24 hours before it is retrieved. For most of the modern era, halibut fishery operated kind of like a "derby". Regulators set a date, time (typically 24-48 hours) and area to be fished. Then the fisherman raced to catch as many halibut as they could within that time slot. This approach led to unsafe fishing, as openings were set before the weather was known encouraging them to stay awake for days at a time in order to maximize their catch. It would also create a glut of halibut on the market and thus reduced the price received by the fishermen.

In more recent years, halibut licence holders were give a quota based on their catch history. They could catch their quota at almost any time during the year so the price they received was typically much higher. This "privatization" of the commercial fishery created instant millionaires among the licence holders, many who don’t even fish and lease out their quota to other fisherman.

It has been a political "hot potato" in Canada as the sport fishing sector has struggled to keep our catch within the limits of our allocation. The Department of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO) has tried to fix this imbalance with various "band-aid" solutions including the recent Experimental Recreational Halibut Fishery. The halibut fishery is managed through the International Pacific Halibut Commission (PHC). This management treaty was formed in 1923 between the United States and Canada as these two counties share this valuable resource. The PHC has been a great success story managing halibut catches at a sustainable level of harvest.

More information on halibut is available on wikipedia here.

Andy & son Alex Sarglepp 115 lbs. with guide Scottydawg. The halibut outweighed 'the kid' by over 45 lbs.Successful halibut fishing takes some skill to master. You don’t just dump your gear down to the bottom and hope for the best. There is a definite technique. At the lodge we conduct in-depth seminars to train you. For the first timer we highly recommend hiring a guide for at least a day. This will fast track your learning and maximize your success. The equipment we use is much more heavy duty than for the salmon fishing. The rods are shorter (6 foot) and much heavier. They are equipped with multi-action reels (4-1 retrieve), 100 lbs. test line, 1 lbs. weights and spreader bars. The best bait are salmon collars as stay on the hook better than anything else and you fish more effectively as you always have bait on your hook.

In case you hook a really big halibut we even have harpoons to help land that "big one". The hardest part of the technique is keeping your gear on the bottom. With the up to 14 foot tide changes that we get in Rivers Inlet, a little afternoon chop and some swell, it can be hard to keep that line perpendicular to the boat and fishing effectively. Most of the your fishing time is spent with the boat in reverse as you back into the current. Our lodge record is 152 lbs. and we consistently catch plus 50 lbs. halibut. However the tastiest halibut  are the "chickens" between 15-30 lbs.

Check out our halibut fishing tutorial video.

  If you’re looking for something different to do with your catch here is a light and tasty recipe to enjoy halibut.

On behalf of my father and myself, I wanted to thank you and your staff for a great time last week. We have had the opportunity over the years to visit many lodges, and in my opinion, Sportsman’s Club compares favorably to anywhere we have been.

We fished with 3 of your guides and they all worked hard to find fish and were a pleasure to spend time with. They all handled themselves very well.

The gals on the dock were great. They all tried very hard to make certain our accommodations were top notch. The rooms were spotless, bathrooms immaculate, rain gear was clean … I could go on and on.

It’s rare when we go fishing that we look forward to eating as much as we look forward to the fishing. However, that’s exactly what happened on this trip. Every meal was awesome. Whether it was the soup, entrees, deserts, snacks or whatever, the food was the finest I have ever had at a lodge. Each day ended with the freshly baked late night chocolate chip cookies. Now I’m trying to lose the five pounds I gained.

Thanks again for a very memorable experience. I hope we can come again next year’
Regards, A. Jansen Jr.